Sunday, May 07, 2006

IxNay on the OundHay

I think a little Greyhound follow-up story is called for, since after my return trip, I have come to some conclusions about a) society, b) humanity and c) the people of Oakland. To make a long and painful story short, I was on a bus with the true dregs of humanity coming back from Reno to San Francisco. I am not being mean here. These were truly AWFUL people. Let me elaborate...

As I was in the bathroom, I heard a woman screaming at her young child in another stall, telling her to "wipe her own a**," and then flying into a stream of obscenities -- well, one obscenity, really, repeated over and over -- after she dropped her cell phone in the toilet. The cell phone was obviously more of a priority to the mother than was her 4 year old daughter, I noticed, because when I came out of my stall, the little girl was burning her hand on the dryer and the mother yelled at her to "leave me ALONE right now," while she tried to dry the cell phone. Lovely, I thought, and went back on the bus.

In a few minutes, the cell-phone lady and her daughter came back to the bus, but had to wait because a severely disabled man -- like, he had a cane and could barely walk -- was struggling into his seat, and the old man sitting next to him was standing in the aisle to let him in. The woman came up behind the old man and said, loudly, "Can y'all hurry UP? It's HOT out here." Then she went on to complain that the disabled man was holding up the "whole motherf***ing bus," and eventually pushed her way past. Wow, I thought.

Things got worse the next time cell-phone lady, her sister, and the little girl went to get off the bus, because this time, one of the women told the old man -- who was again standing in the aisle -- that he better "sit his old a** down or there is gonna be s***." Okay, I am NOT making this up. There is no way I could make this up. She then called him a motherf***er, said something else about his old a**, and pushed her way off the bus. At this point, the old man looked like he was going to cry. But the worst part of the whole thing was that these women were swearing like sailors in front of their own child and in front of OTHER people's children. Everyone else on the bus was sort of shell-shocked but no one said anything to the women, I think because we were all sort of afraid she would cut us.

I guess what depresses me about this situation is that it seems like the social contract -- the basic rules that we all abide by to make our society work -- seems to have broken down with these women. How is that little girl going to grow up if her parents are setting such a horrendous example of how to treat other people? And how do those women even make it through the day if every basic interaction with another human being turns into some sort of semi-violent confrontation laced with profanities? I just don't get it.

Besides the two scary ladies, the rest of the ride was uneventful. You had your drunken, smelly people, your loud-talking-on-cell-phone people, your chatty old people who ride the Greyhound every week, and your marginally mentally-ill people. Same ol'. Moral of the story? Unless you want to be severely depressed about the state of American society -- or at least the bottom of the barrel of American society -- don't ride the 'Hound any time soon. Or if you do, at least pack your own booze.

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